LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - If you use the I-430/I-630 interchange, then you know it's constantly changing right now.
'THV This Morning' is working for our viewers with an update on what you need to know about what's happening, what's coming and what it will all look like in the end.
Director of the Arkansas Highway Department Scott Bennett sat down with THV's Ashley Blackstone.
This Big Rock Interchange in West Little Rock project seems to have been going on for some time. Give us brief history.
It's a $125 million project to make improvements to the Interchange and it began in 2009. The final phase is underway and should be completed around the end of 2014. The final phase is an $88 million contract and is the single largest amount we have ever had for a project in Arkansas.
Nearly 100,000 vehicles a day travel on both the I-430 and the I-630 lanes in the Interchange area. That is quadrupled from when it first opened in the 1970s. Modifications will improve traffic patterns and one of the most unique modifications will be the use of flyover ramps.
I guess the work going on out there now is part of those flyover ramps?
Exactly. A total of 44 steel beams have to be hung for those flyovers. It takes two specialized cranes and 16 tractor trailers of equipment to hang those beams, so there has been an amazing amount of activity going on lately. The first couple of years work was spread around the Interchange and now it is going up over existing lanes.
The Highway Department has really reached out to the public lately to stay away on certain days. How has that gone?
Drivers have listened to us and have reacted when we asked for help. We asked people to Stay Away for a Day on May 30 and they did - allowing the contractor to shift lanes and complete that phase of work in half the time they expected. Right now we are entering the last week of 20 days and nights of lane closures and shifting as those beams are hung. People have generally stayed away. There will be some more lane closures this weekend and early next week before we wrap it up by the end of next week.
What can we expect next?
Work will continue through 2014, but after next week we should be in the same traffic pattern for the rest of the year. The next significant traffic shift will come early-mid next year when I-630 lanes will need to be shift as workers begin construction of a new bridge over Shackleford Road.
What's the final product going to be like?
A vastly improved 1970s Interchange that can handle 2012 and beyond traffic needs. People will see new ramp configurations, new bridges and dedicated traffic lanes. It will be a transportation showcase.